Senator Steans

August 2, 2017

Dear Friends,


Yesterday, Gov. Rauner issued an amendatory veto to rewrite a landmark school funding reform measure and force Chicago children to pay for a pension problem they did not create. He had the opportunity to correct the injustice that has plagued Illinois schools for decades and enact fair school funding but instead chose to put politics and divisive rhetoric before the needs of Illinois school children. His veto makes CPS the only school district in the state to lose money in the new school funding formula.


Senator Steans on the Senate floorOn May 31, both chambers passed Senate Bill 1, a measure that would replace Illinois’ worst-in-the nation school funding formula with one that adequately and equitably funds schools for the first time in decades. Under Senate Bill 1 as it passed both chambers, no school district would receive less funding than it did in Fiscal Year 2017.


Illinois’ current funding model is nearly 20 years old and rewards affluent communities while punishing those with high concentrations of poverty and lower property wealth. It has led to large spending and achievement gaps between wealthy districts and poor school districts because of its heavy reliance on local property taxes.


SB 1 would replace our current funding system with a new school funding model. The model uses 27 evidence-based practices that are proven to enhance student achievement in the classroom. The model also accounts for factors such as the number of students with disabilities, English language learners and low-income students.


SB 1 aims to level the playing field by funneling new money into school districts that are the least able to offer a high-quality education based on student needs, local property wealth and a district’s taxing effort. The measure also makes high-tax school districts eligible for property tax relief up to 1 percent of its Equalized Assessed Value.


As it passed the Senate and House, this legislation would dramatically affect CPS by shifting pension costs from the school district to the state. CPS is currently the only school district in Illinois that is responsible for the employer’s share of teachers’ pensions. Under Senate Bill 1, Chicago Public Schools would receive an additional $292 million total for the next school year to implement the evidence-based school funding formula and for pension costs. The governor’s veto, however, removes CPS pension coverage from SB 1 stating that it instead belongs in the Pension Code. That change would require significant legislative action.


Though the governor claims SB 1 is a Chicago “bailout,” 268 school districts would receive more per-pupil funding than CPS under SB 1. You can find out more information on how each school district would fare under SB 1 at Funding Illinois’ Future’s website, a coalition of more than 200 school districts, superintendents, educators and community- and faith-based organizations that support SB 1.


Beyond the changes to CPS, the governor’s amendatory veto also includes the following:

• Moving from a per-district hold harmless to a per-pupil hold harmless in 2021. This would negatively impact districts that are already losing students.

• Removes the minimum school funding requirement.

• Eliminates the Property Tax Extension Law Limit and TIF equalized assessed value subsidies.

• Removes a provision that safeguards against future pension cost shifts and ensures school funding would continue to support students.


Senate Bill 1 as it passed the legislature would stop pouring money into a broken system that has perpetuated a system of winners and losers. I voted for this legislation because I think children in Illinois should receive a fair education, regardless of their ZIP code.


The General Assembly now has the option of accepting or overriding the governor’s changes to Senate Bill 1. I will work to ensure that education is once again the great equalizer in Illinois.


As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or reach out online with any questions or concerns.


Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois


Upcoming events in the district


We are currently collecting school supplies for our annual sponsor-a-student backpack drive. Please click here to review the supplies list and click here to sign up for the drive. The drive is now open and ends on August 11.

Annual backpack drive flyer

Rogers Park Community Pet Day flyer


District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)


Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)




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